To handle fresh fruit at the Port of Dover, George Hammond has purchased a new fleet of ten Hyster Fortens LPG forklift trucks, from long term supplier Barloworld Handling.
George Hammond PLC is the only general stevedoring and freight handling company at the Port of Dover. The Company discharges and stores fresh produce from ships operated by Africa Express Line and Seatrade Reefer pool with weekly services from West Africa and Central America. Typical cargo includes palletised bananas, pineapples and melons for brands such as Delmonte, Compagnie Fruitière, Simba, Mack, Fyffes, Canavese, SH Pratt and Keelings and leading supermarkets, which are now sourcing supplies direct from the producers.
"We provide an efficient, fast, safe and careful produce handling operation at the Port of Dover and the materials handling fleet is a critical element" explains James Ryeland, managing director of George Hammond, Port and Marine Services. "We need maximum availability from the forklift fleet as the ships have to be in and out quickly and the produce sorted and transferred immediately into temperature controlled store or direct to transport."
Ten new Hyster H3.5FT Fortens Advance LPG forklift trucks with 3,500kg lift capacity have recently been delivered to bolster the George Hammond operation. With a total fleet of 30 units, George Hammond handles approximately 6,000 pallets a week, 300,000 pallets per year and on average despatches approximately 70 road vehicles a day for UK and European distribution.
Cranes transfer pallets from the ships to the quayside where the new Hyster trucks, fitted with double and treble pallet handlers, transport the perishables directly into ambient transit sheds aligned to the quayside. The produce is then scanned and either cross docked and loaded straight onto customer vehicles, or immediately transferred to the 5,500 pallet capacity temperature controlled store which has ten chambers covering 0º to +15ºC and features new ethylene scrubber units.
"We are usually the first port of call for these vessels and the majority discharge only part cargoes at Dover" James says, explaining that cross docking at Dover for continental distribution reduces shipping time and makes use of low cost empty vehicles returning to the continent. Containers holding cherry tomatoes, sweetcorn or beans are also received for receivers Dole Fresh UK and Barfoots of Botley.
"Sometimes the ships arrive back to back, so a reliable forklift fleet is essential for continuous operation and to ensure we offer a 24 hour flexible service" he adds. "We own all our trucks and maintain them ourselves with full support from Barloworld as we need it."
The Hyster Fortens forklifts provide excellent reliability and a low cost of operation in the intense George Hammond operation thanks, in part, to the electronically controlled Duramatch transmission. Duramatch enables even the most aggressive direction changes to be made smoothly, without using the brake pedal or even stopping the truck. This contributes to improved productivity and reduced maintenance costs at the port, prolonging the lifetime of the clutch, brakes and tyres. The entire drive train is protected, the oil immersed brakes are virtually maintenance free and the fleet operates on Michelin Pneumatic tyres, helping to reduce wear on the brick block flooring.
"We have bought Hyster equipment for many years as they are extremely robust machines" James says, commenting that they bought a different branded fleet five years ago that did not stand the test of time, unlike Hyster trucks purchased in the early 90s that are still in operation today and used as spare trucks.
The new Hyster Fortens LPG trucks were also carefully selected due to their environmental performance and low exhaust emissions. This is particularly important to George Hammond as the trucks are used inside the temperature controlled storage areas and exhaust emissions can speed up the ripening process of bananas. Speed limiters, incorporating acceleration limitation, help to reduce fuel consumption and emissions even further and enhance levels of safety when picking from the store and transporting to the loading bays.
"We have a 240 year heritage and continue to invest for the future to ensure we meet the exacting quality standards that our customers expect" he adds. Barloworld Handling records show that a Hyster unit was first supplied to George Hammond in 1968.